This article originally appeared on Gavi’s VaccinesWork website. Below is an excerpt.
The HPV vaccine first rolled out as part of the Uzbek immunisation schedule in 2019. In an effort to stave off misinformation, the government and its partners undertook a major proactive communication campaign. TV, radio and print journalists were trained up on the ABCs of HPV, and briefed on the figures in the public health establishment who counted as qualified voices.
Still, pockets of doubt remained. Uzbekistan’s recent experience has shown that strong, clear, consistent communication is the best remedy.
According to the Ministry of Health, when vaccination numbers began to decline at a school in the capital, Tashkent, the National Immunization Programme convened a parents’ meeting. Health care professionals were invited to answer questions and dispel the vaccine myths that were circulating on social media. “Every concern that parents had was answered by experts with data, examples, and studies,” WHO said in a news release following the event. “After hearing this information, parents wanted not only their own child to be vaccinated but as many children as possible.”
Lobar witnessed a similar turnaround among more sceptical students at her own school. Some of her friends were under the mistaken impression that the vaccine might have a negative impact on their fertility. Doctors, she says, were on hand to listen to the pupils’ concerns, and set them straight.
Explore the full article to understand how Uzbekistan successfully launched the HPV vaccine, with 94% of Uzbek girls aged 12 to 14 receiving a first dose of the vaccine.